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Palomino looks at the world differently

Staff writer

Drivers passing the field along Remington Road just north of St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church in Pilsen can see a 36-year-old Palomino roaming through the grass.

The Palomino, however, may not see them. Bojo, you see, has only one eye.

Terry Klenda, Bojo’s owner, said he suffered an unknown injury about ten years ago while in the company of another horse that left his eye draining and constantly moist. Klenda had a friend with a horse that had the same eye condition, and her friend’s horse ended up dying from brain cancer.

So in the end, Klenda knew Bojo’s eye needed to go.

After a veterinarian removed Bojo’s right eye, the horse needed time to adjust.

“When he figured out what I had done to him, he wasn’t happy,” said Klenda. “It was several months, almost half a year til I could get close to him again.”

Though shy around people, Bojo loves company, whether it’s a horse or a cow. When the weather warmed up on Friday, Jhordynn Kendrick, 19, pulled off the zebra winter blankets for Bojo and her own Palomino, Vegas. While feeding both horses, Kendrick said, “There’s something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a person.”

That’s true whether the horse has one eye or two. Vegas makes a point to stay on Bojo’s sighted side. Bojo insists, never with kicks or bites, just by pinning her ears back. Vegas complies. When Kendrick takes Vegas away to barrel race throughout the state at various rodeos, Bojo grows upset. For days after Vegas leaves, Bojo will trot along the fence snorting and carrying on.

Bojo likes cows, too. When a cow comes to the Klenda Homestead, Bojo is right there with the bovine.

“If the cow is at the north end of the pen or in the barn, Bojo is there with him,” Klenda said. “He likes company.”

One-eyed horses can adjust and even thrive. A Swedish dressage horse with one eye competed in the 2012 London Olympics, for example. But trainers often share a similar story online that involves plenty of patience as the horse makes the switch to living with limited vision.

Horses see horizontally, which means horses with one eye lose some vision, said veterinarian Jessica Laurin.

“Their vision crosses a little bit to the front, so if it’s his right eye, the right half of his vision is gone,” Laurin said. “There are some horses that don’t deal with it well, and they can be dangerous that way. They’re big massive animals with a lot of strength, so if they’re not trained well that can lead to someone getting injured.”

A horse whose eye has been removed will rely on the training received as a young horse, Laurin said.

Bojo arrived at the Klenda Homestead when he was about 10. Klenda traded some weaning pigs for the gentle Palomino who chipped in as a farm hand for many years before developing the eye condition.

Since his eye was removed, Klenda has ridden Bojo only a few times.

“Every time, he’s a nervous wreck,” Klenda said.

“My husband says we should get rid of him so we don’t have to figure out what to do with his body when the time comes,” Klenda said. “But he’ll be here until he goes.”

Last modified Dec. 4, 2014

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